CANNABIS CULTURE – Gary Johnson is a free-thinking politician, something you wouldn’t expect in this day and age.
He is someone with ideals and views based on common sense rather than party lines; a true believer and defender of the constitution and our rights. Open to discussion on the issues, and willing to change his mind if presented with convincing evidence.
Johnson served two successful terms as governor of New Mexico and showed that you can run “good” government without previous political experience and without excessive spending, back-room politics and corporate kickbacks. We need more politicians who, like him, are not afraid to speak truth to power by criticizing flawed government policy, and who will create reform and true change.
The former governor is currently spreading his message throughout the country in the form of a non-profit known as the Our America Initiative. Its mission is to broaden public policy, debate current topics of concern, and to enlighten and educate the public about the true state of our civil liberties, the benefits of free enterprise and government reform. He claims to be a Republican, but I see him as a true constitutionalist and a libertarian.
As governor of New Mexico, he vetoed more than 750 spending bills and made 1000’s of line item vetoes. Instead of increasing tax, he put what he had to good use. Cutting costs and returning to the religion of the pocketbook is what Johnson is all about.
Our economy is failing and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. More spending just doesn’t make sense. How can we fix these problems in our society of overindulgence, and consumerism?
According to Johnson, a good start would be to legalize marijuana and cut the $42 billion we spend every year on cannabis eradication and apply it to much more urgent needs such as job creation. He believes that 90% of the drug problem is prohibition-related, not use-related. Half of everything we spend on law enforcement, and prisons, and the courts is marijuana related. We arrest 1.8 million people a year, which is the population of New Mexico.
What are we getting for this war on drugs you ask? Unfortunately, nothing but more drug trafficking and more violence at our borders and within the country.
Take a look at the statistics and you’ll realize that marijuana is not a threat to society. 435,000 americans per year die from tobacco, 365,000 a year die from obesity, 85,000 die a year from alcohol, and 17,000 die a year from illicit drug overdoses, and guess how many people die a year from marijuana. A big fat 0.
The DEA spends $42 billion dollars a year to eradicate cannabis and hemp. Most people don’t know that hemp was widely used in early American history. The founding fathers grew it because it was the most profitable crop next to tobacco. It could be used to make fabric, paper, rope, and many other necessary things we use in everyday applications. It was even used as a currency, and to make our first american flags. The early drafts of the Declaration of Independence, and the constitution were written on hemp. The Founding Fathers and early Americans saw the true greatness of hemp and its many benefits to society. Hemp can be produced for paper in less time, with less resources, less money, and 1/5 the environmental impact. The prohibition of hemp and marijuana was pushed by racial scare tactics, and a lot of the paper industry’s money.
Cannabis is also a good source of essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, which are essential to maintain a healthy human life. It provides these things in an easily digestible form. Why aren’t we using this plant to our advantage rather than burning it at the site as if it caused the plague? We import all hemp seeds and products from Canada and Europe. In our current economic situation, legalizing hemp would not only create jobs, but improve our health and reduce the national debt.
Although Johnson would like to see marijuana legalized, he is pragmatic about it.
“It will never be legal for children to smoke pot, and it will never be legal for you to smoke pot and enter a vehicle to harm someone,” he said.
As of 2008, the national debt is $9 trillion, and it has been steadily rising since then. Johnson says “We’re currently borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar, let’s cut government spending by 43%, to reduce the enormous deficit we have created”. Spending is going up and so are taxes. If we were to slash government spending in half, and thoroughly cost-benefit analyze everything, along with providing the best product and service, we would be in a better boat than we are now. We need to rebuild the dollar, instead of continually destroying it with inflation from stimulus packages and military spending.
Johnson wants to bring jobs back to America. He would lower the taxes on corporations to allow them to flourish, and says our taxes are at least twice as high as in other countries, which encourages entrepreneurs to build their businesses outside of America. If we were to lower the taxes on corporations, this would give them motivation to build in the US, creating more jobs. It is not our government’s role to create jobs, but what the government can do is create a climate of certainty.
There is considerable speculation that Johnson will be a candidate for president in the 2012 election, but he refuses to comment about the issue at this time. In case he does run, the following one-on-one interview with Johnson should provide some insight into most of his ideas.
Ryan Whittaker: How would you lower the deficit of well over $9 trillion?
Gary Johnson: The more important number at this time is the unfunded entitlement liability, the liability that we all have on a short term basis, which now exceeds $100 trillion. So park the notion of paying back the debt, put the notion on the front burner of balancing revenues and expenditures and actually going forward toward this $100 trillion liability. Specifically regarding the big four, I believe social security needs a reform, where it is a viable option for us in the future – raising the age of retirement and eligibility – if these things aren’t done then the bankruptcy of our country will be more prevalent than ever. Medicare was adopted in the mid sixties, it was estimated to cost $10 billion. $100 billion in 1980. Today it is $500 billion, and it hasn’t even begun to see the ultimate cost when the baby boomers are going to retire.
RW: How will we pay for the baby boomers’ social security and benefits?
GJ: Right now there is no chance we can pay for it other than to devalue the dollar even further than it is going to be. This issue must be addressed now. We need to put together some sort of plan or way to reduce the entitlement benefits of medicaid. 25 cents out of every medicaid dollar that has been spent is breaking the state’s banks. It has broken the federal bank also because it is printing money to cover these obligations. I believe that the states should independently create solutions, they should be able to innovate and create more efficient solutions and best practices for medical delivery and care for the poor, students, and families who cant afford healthcare. This is purely a suggestion to stunt the growth in medicaid.
I was opposed to any military involvement in Iraq; I feel as if we had the surveillance and technology to rule out that they didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. We could have dealt with this situation that way, instead of being pulled into a civil war with no end. We are building roads, schools, and bridges in Iraq and Afghanistan, while we are borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to do this. I think the notion of nation-building, and the role of our military doing this should be ceased. We will be no good to anyone if we continue to dig ourselves into a hole.
RW: How would you turn this $800 billion military spending around?
GJ: We are existing under treaties signed years ago. We need to renogtiate our security treaties to fit our current society and economic situation.
RW: How can we increase the exports and make jobs in America?
GJ: I think America has always been at the front of innovation, which I would say is being lost, it has always been the place to innovate, a place to do business because business has kept more profits here, but this is changing. What can the government do? Government can create certainty by lowering taxes and having a very low tax policy – taxing corporations is truly a double tax. They pay a tax upfront for profits, and then when you or anyone gets their paycheck you pay a tax also. The taxes on business is encouraging the industries to leave the country.
RW: How do you feel about government subsidizing green vehicles?
GJ: If you’re talking about the government OWNING the Chevy Volt, all I have to say is I strongly oppose bailouts. I feel as if the notion of GM going away is false. If they were to have privately restructured themselves they would have been better off. I’m a strong believer in free trade and I feel like the U.S. is moving farther and farther away from it. For example, the Internet is one of the last free trades in the US and the government is coming closer and closer to monitoring, taxing, and owning the Internet.
RW: Green technology is becoming increasingly popular but not exactly practical, how do you feel about about the Green Movement?
GJ: I feel like we have made too large of an investment in the green technology, too much money has been spent, whether you take solar, wind, or hydrogen, they get 100% better every 5 years or so, that’s the fact. If this happens then we can make it a more viable option, but at this point in time it only accounts for 15% of our energy needs. Coal-powered plants are currently used for 50% of our energy, and they aren’t being built because they are “dirty”. We have to have our coal technology, but we need to improve it. If we allow offshore oil drilling to happen in the safest environmental way possible, and if we were to pursue a policy of “let’s find as much oil as we possibly can” in 15 years, it’s possible that we could supply 50% of the US electrical needs, but we are moving away from that. In regards to nuclear, all licenses are expired and we are building no new plants. We have to or else we are looking at significant brown outs. Instead of talking about the millions of jobs being created in the green area, lets talk about the tens of millions of jobs being created in the so called “brown space”. These jobs need to be filled to fulfill our energy needs moving forward. All of these energy sources need to be improved and used in a forward motion because the green technology will not suffice us anytime soon, it just isn’t gonna happen.
RW: Are you for or against the drilling in the arctic wildlife refuge?
Gary: I support offshore drilling, and I support drilling in the Arctic wildlife refuge, but I’m open to change my mind if you can show me that this would be some sort of environmental wrong. It should be done in safest possible way.
RW: Let’s talk a bit about your foreign policy. How do you feel about Iran, and North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, etc?
GJ: We need to be vigilant about that, and we offer a nuclear deterrent to North Korea. We will be offering the same to Iran; the fact that Israel has 300 nuclear warheads is defiantly a deterrent. The notion of us having to carry the burden of deciding whether or not they should have them or shouldn’t – I think this need to be shared more than is taking place.
RW: Do you think our presence will be lessened in the Middle East? Obama claims to be doing a full pullout.
GJ: Well, I don’t see us getting out, but I feel as if we should be. I’m not optimistic though, I just don’t see it happening. It’s a repeating cycle, and I think I see this remaining in our future for years to come.
RW: Let’s talk about immigration. Should we completely close our borders, or continue to regulate with poor results?
GJ: As a border-states governor, I feel as if I have a good understanding of this. Another border-states governor who really had it right was George Bush. I feel like legal immigration is a great thing and illegal immigration is a bad thing. We can do a couple of things that eliminate 75% of the problems that we have at the border right now. Making it easy for an immigrant to get a work visa, with a good background check, then issue them a social security card, and make them pay income taxes, social security, medicare and everything that everyone else would pay.
I feel like legalizing marijuana would lessen border violence, and illegal immigration significantly. My understanding of Mexican drug cartels moving over the border is that it’s 75% marijuana-related. Legalize marijuana and make work visas easily attainable. With regard to illegals currently in the U.S., we need to set up a grace period for illegals to attain work visas. I feel as if putting the National Guard arm and arm across all of the border would be a whole lot of money spent that would have relatively no benefit.
RW: What’s your opinion on needle exchanges?
GJ: I actually got to sign legislation that brought about needle exchange. I decided that it was going to save lives rather than destroy them, and reduce HIV and hepatitis.
RW: What’s your strategy on reducing drug use in America – more rehabilitation instead of incarceration?
GJ: Incarceration doesn’t work at all, in 100 out of 100 cases. Would I like to offer an individual rehabilitation rather prison? Well, I don’t really think it works either – those that face that decision of course always choose rehabilitation, so it is a forced model of rehabilitation and it doesn’t work.
How do we truly lower drug use? Completely decriminalize all drug use, like Portugal and the Netherlands. It shows that drug use has dropped in all categories, very counter-intuitive, but it is the truth. I do think we can do this, and I feel like it would drop overall drug use dramatically, because we can see it working in other countries.
RW: What do you think about the three strikes rule, what about people with marijuana felonies?
GJ: I think it’s truly insanity, on the part of the government. We are affecting millions of people with this kind of legislation. In Iowa, a father was sentenced to 25 years in prison for possession of 1 gram of marijuana with intent to distribute to his children. He only ended up serving one year, but this is just outrageous. We need to stop this kind of poor enforcement.
RW: If you were to run for an electoral office in 2012, would you give pardons to Marc Emery and people serving time for marijuana crime?
GJ: Yes, and we would like to think if rational drug policy was implemented then we could see some change. I feel like California’s Proposition 19 has the possibility of having a domino effect if it passes. Once people see that it can work, it will create a wave of changes in our drug enforcement system. Rational drug policy is what we need. If Prop. 19 fails or goes through doesn’t matter, we are at the point were it will come again and pass next year even if it doesn’t this year.
RW: Do you believe in overall socializing of healthcare, and how will we get the care into the hands of the people?
GJ: I don’t believe in socializing medicine. If the government could make an environment right for the free market to take off, more government involvement is not what we need. We need a pay as you go model rather than an insurance model. It’s all about the free market system, I would like to shop for my surgeries and doctors. I’m asking for more innovation and lower prices.
RW: Should students, families, and elderly people be expecting the government to supply and provide them with adequate healthcare?
GJ: One of the reasons I’m a Republican and not a libertarian is because I’d like to think that we would have compassion, and we do have systems to take care of people that are down on their luck. But to somehow believe that we can’t be better in that category – we shouldn’t be immune to reducing costs, but we need to have a heart for people in situations of that sort. There is a way to provide for everyone.
RW: What is your gun policy?
GJ: I strongly believe in your right to bear arms, and I’ve personally signed bills allowing for concealed weapons on citizens. I feel like if more people had concealed weapons that it would lower crime, because of the fact that people would think twice about robbing innocent people when they could be packing, or someone around might be.
RW: What’s your opinion on the building of the mosque at Ground Zero?
GJ: We do have the right to freedom of religion, period. Too many people have fought and died for this. Is it in the best interests of the Muslims to build this? Probably not, but it’s not the government’s place to step in.
RW: How do you feel about Prop 8 and same-sex marriage?
GJ: I’m a firm believer in gay unions. Governments should stick to the union business, and churches should stay in the marriage business.
RW: Opinion on Guantanamo bay, and waterboarding?
GJ: I strongly oppose waterboarding and feel like we would have less enemies if we handle situations differently. I also feel as if George W. Bush was right in what he did, but he just didn’t take the time to explain what he was doing to the people.
RW: How do you feel about the Patriot Act, and privacy acts?
GJ: I was not in Congress when the Patriot Act came down, but I would like to think I would have voted against it. I didn’t have that opportunity – I was a bit uninformed on the Patriot Act. I wish I would have been though, because I would have done what I could have done to lessen its impacts.
RW: What do you think about large class sizes and education, should parents be turning to private/charter schools for the children’s education?
GJ: I was more outspoken than any other governor on school choice. I believe the only way to reform education is to bring competition to public education. I proposed that all children should be given a school voucher. Here’s how this would improve education: currently federal department of education gives 11 cents out of every dollar, it comes with about 16 cents of strings attached. It’s truly a negative for states to accept money in regards to education. Return education to the states, and let the government keep their money, it would allow the states to innovate. I believe this would create so much innovation, in a competitive environment for the better of education.
RW: Where do you think government should be on abortion? Should it be a state, county or federal issue?
GJ: It’s truly a state issue. Personally I support a woman’s right to choose up until the 3rd term. I’m against partial births and any late-term abortions.
RW: Parental consent is not needed for most medical issues, how do you feel about it being needed for abortion?
GJ: Rather than parental consent, I support parental notification, and I’ve always supported the fact that government funds should not be used to fund abortion.
RW: How do you feel about stem cell research and cloning?
GJ: I’m all for stem cell research, and the furthering of our knowledge in cloning and helping disease prevention. If I was in the position of a paraplegic or someone that could benefit, I would be outraged that this kind of research was not going on.
Keep a lookout as Gary Johnson continues to burn rubber across the country spreading his message with the Our America Initiative. Hopefully we will see a lot more of him in 2012.